August 2010




Handfasting is a Celtic wedding ceremony from the middle ages. Many small villages did not a have local minister or priest to perform a marriage ceremony, so couples would perform a handfasting which temporarily bound them until someone of the clergy could perform a ceremony. A couple would live together for a year and a day, at which time they could decide whether to part or make a lifelong commitment. It was considered more important for the bride to be fertile than to be a virgin. Now, handfasting is a way to honor the couple’s Celtic heritage. Their hands are bound together in a cord or a tartan clothe during the vows to show that from that point forward they are no longer two, but are now one. 


I was contracted by a bride for her destination wedding.  She had booked a Disney vacation with her family and now needed the wedding.  With 20 guests and a small budget, I was given the following criteria:

  • Had to be a certain Saturday evening date, no flexibility – about 3 months away, close to Disney, and inside/air-conditioned. No DJ, just some ipod music with speakers. “Simple.”
    Challenge: Venues not already booked are still hoping for an event of  50- 75- or 100 because with the possible exception of the number of servers, they still need to setup, staff, and strike a room for 20 same as a room for more. With limited transportation for wedding party and guests from Disney area, a 15+ passenger van for 4-6 hours on Saturday could run close to $1000 or nearly 20% of the wedding budget.  
  • Week One (from receipt of bride’s contract/needs list. Bride wanted modern, lounge feel, nothing traditional. We discussed possibility of a modern art gallery. I asked for photos of “the look,” but she couldn’t scan or upload photos to e-mail, so I’ll wait for snail mail. 
    Challenge: Did I mention that 6 of the 20 guests are children?  Sure I could take the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach with a venue, but I’d never be welcomed back.  Needless to say, the response was similar to trying to rent an apartment with an agressive pit bull puppy….
  • Week Two. Half e a dozen venues down, the bride leaves a message that she found a venue she likes on the internet.  Great, I have a contact there, but it’s the weekend and they are closed on Monday, so I’ll leave a message and hope to chat with her on Tuesday.  In the mean time, I brainstorm with a few colleagues and get a lead on an art gallery that appears to be just what she wants, but I get the IT guy when I call, so he takes the information and assures me someone will get back to me….
    Challenge: Bride is getting impatient with me and not having a venue yet.
  • Bride calls.  She has found a venue SHE MUST HAVE (change from 48 hours ago), and has already reserved it.  Now the date has changed,  it’s on the near opposite side of town from Disney, it’s historic and rustic,  and is best for about 100-150 guests, not 20.  She’s found a caterer, a DJ and a cake, and will be buying all her own liquor.  So, now she’s a wedding expert,  and doesn’t think she needs my services anymore…. but she’ll let me know closer to the wedding whether I’m still needed or not.
    Challenge: The candy bar is out because it won’t look right for just 20 people, but a chocolate fountain is definitely “in.”  Can anyone else visualize 6 kids with chocolate in an art gallery? And now the art gallery has called me back and is willing to host this wedding. 

I wish her all the luck with her wedding….

Fresh almonds have a bittersweet taste, which represents life and they are covered with a candy coating. The sugarcoating is added with the hope that the newlyweds’ life will be more sweet than bitter.
ITALIAN WEDDINGS Five almonds signify five wishes for the bride and groom: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity. These almonds decorate each place setting as favors, tucked into pretty boxes or tulle bags called “bomboniere” that are often personalized with the couple’s names and wedding date. Greek weddings refer to them as “koufeta.”  They are placed in little bags in odd numbers and are served on a silver tray. Odd numbers are indivisible, symbolizing how the newlyweds will share everything and remain undivided. Tradition holds that if an unmarried woman puts the almonds under her pillow, she’ll dream of her future husband.

Five sugared almonds for each guest to eat
To remind us that life is both bitter and sweet.
Five wishes for the new husband and wife —
Health, wealth, happiness, children, and a long life!

To learn more about the history and production of Jordan almonds, visit

Thinking about having a bit of Celtic tradition? Considering kilts? Where do you start? I gave a presentation on Scottish weddings a few years ago at the Association of Bridal Consultants Annual Conference and thought I’d share some blogs on ethnic and specialty weddings.  

  • Understand that each tartan is unique has its own thread count. A pattern is not officially a tartan unless you can fold it diagonally so that the colors match up exactly.  Keep in mind that the wedding party’s attire doesn’t have to match the groom’s. 
  • Kilts are even more expensive than tuxedos most of the time, so it’s usually better to rent the outfit. Once you have a kilt in your clan’s tartan, you’ll need to choose a jacket. Kilt outfits are mainly distinguished by the style of jacket.
  • Casual – This outfit is for every day casual wear and would be worn with a casual/outdoor shirt or sweater and a pair of boots – as illustrated opposite. It consists of Kilt, Sporran, Kilt Pin, Kilt Hose, Belt & Buckle – but you can add other items later to create a Daywear or Full Dress outfit.

Scottish Jacobean Highland Kilt
Jacobean Highland Outfit – an excellent choice for less formal or daytime weddings.


  • Jacobean Highland Outfit – offers a rugged, youthful choice of highlandwear; an excellent choice for less formal Scottish-themed weddings.  The Jacobite outfit  is identified by include a loose Jacobite shirt and vest in lieu of formal jacket, and pouch sporran for casual daywear. 
  • Semi Dress is ideal for formal occasions if you do not want the Full Dress outift – The Semi Dress outfit consists of Kilt, Argyll Jacket, Semi Dress Sporran, Ghillie Brogues, Sgian Dubh, Belt & Buckle, Kilt Hose & Flashes, Kilt Pin and a Bow Tie. The main difference from the Full Dress outfit being the style of jacket and the fact that there is no waistcoat (vest) with the Semi Dress outfit.
  • Grooms and groomsmen however would normally choose the after the style of the jacket.  The Full Dress outfit is the accepted style for Weddings, Black Tie Functions and is the Scottish equivalent of a Dinner Jack
    Semi-Dress (semi-formal) kilt

    Semi-Dress (semi-formal) kilt

    et or Tuxedo.  The full dress outfit is also referred to as the Prince Charlie Outfit.

Accessories:  – Once you have your jacket, shirt, and kilt, you can start to think about the rest of your kilt outfit.   

  • The next difference between the outfits is the kind of sporran (a belted pouch worn at the waist) worn with it. These mostly divide into three categories: Full Dress sporrans, mainly worn with a formal Prince Charlie outfit; Semi-Dress sporrans, suitable for most occasions, perhaps with an Argyll jacket; and Daywear sporrans, which are less formal and could be worn with an Argyll or Tweed jacket.  You should also consider your kilt pin, belt and buckle, tie, and garter flashes.
  • Kilt hose and ghillie brogues are the traditional socks and Highland shoes.
  • Tuck a Skean Dhu (“black dagger” in Gaelic) into the top of the men’s kilt hose. This custom comes from a time when Highlanders wore their weapons openly when they accepted an invitation to someone’s house, thereby showing they had nothing to hide. 

Helpful Websites:   

A professional bridal consultant studies cultural and religious traditions and can help you incorporate them into your wedding.